COIMBATORE: The death toll of elephants in Coimbatore forest division this year rose to 20 with the passing away of an injured male elephant aged around 15 years near Nellithurai reserve forest, which falls under Mettupalayam forest range.
The elephant was found dead on the lower slopes of Nilgiris in Coimbatore district on Thursday evening, forest officials said and added that the animal died of injuries inflicted by other elephants.
It may be noted that the elephant sustained injuries on its left forelimb and the forest department had permission to tranquilise the animal to administer treatment.
However, the animal ventured deep inside the forest atop a hill, came under attack from other elephants, and died of injuries in 15 places on his body, District Forest Officer T Venkatesh told TNIE.
According to the forest department sources, the elephant also sustained injuries in the leg after slipping from the slope due to sludgy surface caused by continuous drizzling.
The animal may have further slipped for about 15 feet and died at the spot after making attempts to stand up, the sources said.
Coimbatore Forest Veterinary Officer Sukumar, retired additional director of animal husbandry department Manoharan conducted the postmortem in the presence of District Forest Officer, Assistant Conservator of Forests and members of NGOs.
A metal detector test on the carcass revealed zero presence of pellets or any metal objects.
"More than 15 tusk-inflicted lacerated and punctured wounds were found on the body. The nature and gravity of wounds suggest that the would have been inflicted at different points of time," a veterinarian said.
Other observations of include: ossification and fibrosis of the front left knee joint leading to immobility of the joint, uneven erosion of footpad, nail cracks, and inter-digital ulcerated wounds.
"Severe congestion on the lungs, heart, and brain were also observed. These traumatic injuries on the body of the animal and the joints heavily disabled him from getting up from the fall," the report said, adding that multiple injuries and severe pain shock caused a cardiac arrest leading to his death.
Stating that the Coimbatore forest division has more breeding males presently, forest officials said intra-species aggression and dominance are the signs a healthy habitat.